Banged-Up Bama Goes To Vanderbilt

If Alabama didn’t have bad injury luck, the Crimson Tide wouldn’t have any luck at all. Even though Vanderbilt is not a very good basketball team this year, no one wants to go to Nashville without all its guns. Bama will be severely limited from a personnel standpoint against the Commodores Saturday.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant announced Thursday that the Crimson Tide will be without former starting guard Ricky Tarrant for the remainder of the season, that forward Shannon Hale will not be able to play against the Commodores, and that forward Michael Kessens will be a “game time decision.”

Game time is at 3 p.m. CST Saturday when Alabama (17-11 overall and 7-8 in Southeastern Conference games) has its second game in two weeks against Vanderbilt (15-12, 5-9) at Memorial Gym in Nashville. On Feb. 14 the Commodores took a 76-68 win over Bama in Tuscaloosa. Saturday’s game will be televised on Fox Sports.

Just before Grant’s pre-game briefing on Thursday, it was announced that Tarrant, who suffered a ruptured plantar fascia against Florida on Jan. 27, would not return this season. He had been listed as “day-to-day” while missing the last eight games. Tarrant, who will also have surgery to correct a “bony prominence” in his left knee had been the Tide’s second-leading scorer at 13.1 points per game. He will be a senior next year.

Hale left the game in the first half Tuesday in Bama’s 59-51 win over South Carolina and did not return. Grant said that he would not be available Saturday and would be evaluated next week.

Kessens missed the South Carolina game after suffering a deep bone bruise on his knee against Georgia Feb. 21.

Grant said that Alabama would face a difficult task against the Commodores in part because in the win over Bama two weeks ago Vandy had been able to get open for good shots and had rebounded well against the Tide, particularly down th stretch. Moreover, he said, Vanderbilt “runs great action to take advantage of personnel match-ups.”

The pressure will be on Tide sophomore center Jimmie Taylor to avoid foul trouble. Taylor has been guilty of 80 fouls this year and has been disqualified three times and averaged only 22.8 minutes per game. “Jimmie has had foul problems that have limited his minutes,” Grant said. “Our players have to adjust to different roles. Fortunately, we have players who can do different things.”

Following the Vandy game, Bama returns to Tuscaloosa for its final home game of the year Tuesday against Ole Miss.


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